Growing an agency is a process. Yes, you can try growth hacking and look for other opportunities to skyrocket into notoriety. But the backbone of real agency growth comes down to one thing… clients.

If growing your client base is the cornerstone of your agency strategy, you can rest assured you’re on the path to stable growth. Below are the main points to focus on when growing your agency by growing your clients.

Set High Goals

The first step to successfully growing your client base quarter after quarter is having an expectation for it. No matter if your agency is well seasoned or brand new, you should be building a similar set of goals for what you want to achieve.

Take a hard look at your agency’s current work capacity and set a goal to surpass it in the next year. You should be prepared to market, pitch, and take on more clients than what you can currently handle. That means also being ready to take on new employees when you meet and surpass your client growth goals.

You should also set high goals for the quality of clients you add on, as well as quantity. Why not pitch a Fortune 500 Company or a famous startup with Angel funding? You have zero chance of landing gigs with these kinds of businesses if you don’t bother to target them.

Build a Sales Process (And Stick to It)

In order to consistently prioritize client growth, you need to have a systematic sales process in place. So many agencies stall their growth by simply dropping all their sales initiatives when their workload reaches a maximum.

Sales can take up a huge portion of your budget and time if you allow it. Instead, you should test what strategies work best at helping you acquire quality clients to keep costs low. If you haven’t already, build a target buyer persona — a profile of your ideal client. Do some market research and discover where this audience spends most of their time on the internet. Then identify which channels you should use to target and pitch them.

Once you’ve defined the most efficient process to acquire new clients, start setting performance quotas. For example, a design agency could set a quota of researching and pitching 100 new clients per month through email. Whatever sales process you set up for your agency, make sure you constantly measure performance and improve your strategy as you learn.

Use Marketing Automation

Another important aspect of creating a targeted sales process and minimizing cost is marketing automation. Since many aspects of your sales and marketing process are systematic, you can grow your agency with marketing automation and reduce the amount of time people need to spend on these activities.

At the same time, marketing automation can optimize your sales initiatives, helping you close more deals and minimize your overall cost per acquisition. Marketing automation can help you:

  • Identify and prioritize leads

Marketing automation can help you identify, label and track your site visitors. Analyzing their on-site behavior makes it easier to understand what motivates them and how likely they are to convert. Quality marketing automation software uses this information to score the potential value of leads so you can prioritize your sales efforts.

  • Simplify CRM

Marketing automation with CRM can also help you visualize your pipeline and how individual leads have interacted with your business so far:

This makes it easier to manage a large number of potential clients at once and discover the right opportunities to target and pitch to them.

  • Personalize your message

Understanding the behavior of your leads also gives insights into their interests. You can use audience behavioral data to segment and send them targeted marketing messages catered to their needs.

  • Optimize your timing

You can auto-schedule emails to go out at the perfect times based on the geolocation of individual subscribers. You can also trigger automated marketing messages to go out based on audience behavior, improving relevance and open rates.

  • And more

Comprehensive marketing automation can also help you build landing pages, optimize your social strategy, manage your blog, and more. Optimizing and automating all these processes can significantly reduce your overall cost per acquisition.

Maximize Customer Lifetime Value

Landing new clients to grow your agency is worth the effort only if they stick around to work with you long term. This is a challenge many agencies face when they offer project-based services. They invest heavily in landing a new client, get paid for one project, then never hear from them again.

That’s why you should prioritize maximizing customer lifetime value (CLV) in all aspects of your business. When building your buyer personas, focus on identifying the kind of clients that want ongoing work. For example, a writing agency wouldn’t want to get into the habit of ghostwriting memoirs for businessmen. Those are one-off projects. Instead, they’d want to land gigs writing marketing content for their organization.

You can also maximize CLV by optimizing the packages and services your agency offers. For example, you can offer a special discount for clients that sign a contract agreeing to regular ongoing work.

Maximizing CLV also comes down to your marketing strategy. Build a marketing campaign to target your audience after they convert into paying customers. Remind them of the value of your services and include special offers to convince them to become repeat customers.

Here’s a great marketing email from a brand design agency with the goal of maximizing customer lifetime value:

First off, they created a unique package service by converting their design and branding services into a subscription. Then they used special discount offers to encourage their previous customers to sign up for the package.

Plan for the Long Run

As a leader, you probably have a good idea of what you want your agency to look like five years from now. Instead of putting that off as a goal for tomorrow, focus on making it a reality now. Agency growth is a long-term strategy. Launch your growth process today, and your path to success will become much shorter.

Katrina McAfee
Over the past 10 years, Katrina has created and implemented marketing plans for industries ranging from health care, transportation, animal welfare and rescue, hospice communities, and much more. At SharpSpring, Katrina’s main focus is coordinating lead generation marketing activities to boost sales for the company.